Spring bounce in the housing market failed to materialise

15th June 2011

Hopes for a Spring bounce in the housing market failed to materialise this year, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The continuing lack of mortgage finance and worries about the economy is still depressing the number and value of transactions. The average number of completed sales per surveyor slipped to just 14.7 - its lowest level since January this year.

In an interview with the BBC, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, says there needs to be greater progress in providing insurance schemes to mortgage lenders.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist: "What we are seeing is a flat market, not a lot going on in activity and pricing is generally in a downward direction, not significantly so, but generally heading down outside one or two key areas. London, for example, is one area where we're still getting very positive readings on prices."

BBC: "What needs to happen, because the banks say it's a question of demand rather than supply. We've seen higher loan to value deals creeping back into the market but this doesn't seem to have been enough to give people the confidence to actually go out and spend their money and get transactions happening again."

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist: "Well I think it's certainly fair to say that uncertainty over the economy, the prospect of big public sector job cuts is casting a pall over the market definitely, but aside from that, although the banks are being a little bit more generous, the terms on which those higher LTV mortgages are being offered still presents a challenge for many first time buyers in particular. They still need to find larger deposits than would perhaps normally be the case. I think we do need to see more progress on providing greater insurance schemes for lenders so that they are able to perhaps increase those LTVs but at perhaps lesser risk to themselves."

BBC: "Are you saying then that the terms that lenders are asking for for these higher loan to values, which is what the first time buyer really needs, are so onerous that in fact the banks aren't extending the credit, they're uncommercial and unrealistic terms and that is tantamount to not offering the finance at all?"

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist: "Well I think that's probably a little strong. clearly they have to be very mindful of the risks they're taking, they've been pilloried for perhaps being too aggressive in their lending criteria in the run up to the credit crunch, they're being mindful of those risks on this occasion, but I would suggest that the pricing of some of these higher LTV mortgages is going to make it quite challenging for first time buyers who will still need to find significant deposits."